Profile of Gerlinde de Deyn

Gerlinde Barbra De Deyn (1975, Aalst Belgium)

After obtaining my degree of Bio-engineer at Gent University (1998) I, rather coincidentally, became a researcher on a project on bio-control of root-feeding nematodes using soil fungi with Prof. Maurice Moens. It was then that I realised how exciting and fun doing research is to me. Not only the thinking and doing experiments but especially the discussions with inspiring peers! And that was only the beginning… in 2000 I moved to the Netherlands for my PhD with Prof. Peter C. de Ruiter (Utrecht University at the time), Prof. Wim van der Putten (NIOO-KNAW and Wageningen University) and Prof. Herman A. Verhoef (Free University Amsterdam). In my PhD I studied the core question(s): “Are soil and plant biodiversity related, and if yes how and so what?”. The answer was yes! More details can be found in Nature, Ecology Letters, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Journal of Ecology and Oikos. I defended my PhD at Utrecht University in 2004. The following year I spent as NWO Talent scholar in the lab of Prof. John Klironomos at University of Guelph, Canada. There I investigated how plant chemical defences against pathogens and herbivores might trade-off in reduced plant growth benefits from beneficial root inhabiting fungi. After that I joined the lab of Prof. Richard Bardgett at Lancaster University, UK as post-doc from 2006-2009. Here I studied how soil carbon sequestration can be stimulated by plant species and vegetation management through their relation to the composition and function of soil micro-organisms. In 2009 I returned to the Netherlands as a post-doc in the lab of Prof. Wim van der Putten, Terrestrial Ecology, at NIOO-KNAW to work on plant diversity restoration and plant-soil feedbacks. I joined Wageningen University in May 2011 where I became Assistant Professor in the Department of Soil Quality, and was awarded a VIDI grant from NWO (2012). With this grant I will start a research program exploring how we could exploit positive plant-soil feedbacks through understanding root traits and their trade-offs. On the off-work side I greatly enjoy outdoor activities, be it hiking, exploring cycling paths in The Netherlands and other countries (huge differences in quality indeed…), playing football, having drinks and chats on a terrace. Indoor activities: chats and drinks in cozy pubs, but surely reading (popular science) books and experimental cooking too.